Long ago in a Merry Melody land far far away, there were animators who used to slave away at their desks, drawing frame by frame pictures of dancing princesses, hopping bunnies, singing canaries and running horses. They used the zoetrope, rotoscope and even flip book techniques to bring their drawings to life. Animating was a skill that wasn’t for everyone and certainly not for someone who couldn’t draw. Suddenly, something bizarre happened; programmers created tools that allowed people— who couldn’t even draw stick figures— to become animators. Thus, software-based programs like Adobe Fireworks and Loxia Studio started to emerge. After a while, animating became something that only tech-savvy people could grasp. Now, since most of the online world will rarely purchase new software, and most animators don’t want to take the risk of downloading a bootleg version of a software that they’ll need a tutorial for, there are more online-based programs that are free and easy to use. Granted, you’re probably not going to create the next Anime series that will get picked up by a major network, but you will be able to create a fun and entertaining animated video that will make your website more interesting, and it will likely increase your visitors.
Sarah Kessler, a writer for Mashable.com, recommends several free and online programs that you won’t even have to download to use. Many of these programs will work on both Mac and PC and it won’t matter if you use GoDaddy or VPS Hosting (a virtual private server hosting company). Here are the programs I fell in love with immediately:
This online program allows you to create free and fun animations without having to download any plugins, files or software. You don’t have to draw, because all of the animation is created for you! These animations are created through selecting the body type of the character, background and props and building up from there. Once finished, your movie can be easily shared on Facebook, Twitter and embedded onto your site. Membership is free and offers users a dashboard that will allow you to know who and how many viewers have seen your animation. They have a burgeoning community of animators who visit often and share their ideas, thoughts and Go Animate movies. Plus, if you own a business and you want to create an inviting message that will amuse as well as inform your clients and prospects, there is a low monthly fee that you can cancel at any time. Go Animate also offers affordable packages for educational animations as well.
This program is more basic, but still fun. If you’re not as serious about your animation, but want to create a cool way to convey your messages, Dvolver is the program for you. Your choices for characters are limited and you can’t put as much variance in the animation that you create, but most of the users who create from this site use it for purposes of fun, rather than for creating professional videos. The program offers you choices for music and backgrounds, but you still get to provide the dialogue.
If you are looking for a program that will allow you to build a character that will simply convey a message in a cool way, Voki is the program for you. This easy-to-use program allows you to create avatars that can either speak with your voice (if your computer has a microphone), speak dialogue that you type with an accent that you choose, or you can call their number and leave a message of what you want the avatar to say. Once you’re finished creating the avatar, you can use the embed code provided and email it to a friend or place it in your website.
With these three free online programs, you will have the ability to animate ideas, concepts, pitches, or maybe even just a note to a friend. Try them out and learn how much fun animating can be.